In the summer of 2012, the Paralympics in London were considered to be a significant springboard for the understanding of disability, and the genuine desire for inclusive activity, be it sport or business or in fact anything where a little consideration and reasonable adjustment is required. We had a legacy from those games, which brought so much to so many through this event.
In the summer of 2016, I come to wonder what happened from then to now, and question the attitudes, once seen as so important, to one today where we find the return of ignorance and even resentment towards those with a disability.
It pains me greatly when I see or hear those with a disability ‘demanding’ this and ‘demanding’ that and I think how much more they would achieve by courtesy and politeness. This attitude is gathering more and more resentment and frankly, I can see why.
However, I recently attended an event. It was a pre-booked event in support of Austism. As my son has Autism – diagnosed at age 29 – we were looking for all the help, information and support we could find. I arrived at the venue with my son, who is also a wheelchair user to a mass of people, all milling about going about their business, even only half an hour after opening! The event was clearly popular and had many speakers and businesses promoting their particular specialism and I must applaud the organisers for pulling this together. Many of those who attended, were obviously teachers, business providers, local authorities as well as parents and even people with Autism themselves. As we tried to wheel around the venue, we were tutted at, cursed for taking up space argued with and insulted and just blocked from getting places we needed to.
Frankly, I was appalled that so many people, involved with and attending an event in support of disability could act and behave so easily in this way.
In that moment, I could understand why those disabled do ‘Demand’, as on this day being courteous was achieving nothing and we were made to feel so insignificant among these so called ‘professionals’ who will no doubt return to their business and profess a caring and supportive organisation.
The legacy of understanding and tolerance from 2012 is well and truly lost and clearly there is a significant erosion of the goodwill, and in some cases obligations to support disabled in an inclusive society.
Those who know me will know that it is not my style to ‘rant’, but I was hurt by this experience, and my son could not enjoy what should have been finding out new things and meeting new people, and I had to bring him out before he had a meltdown. I fear for his future without us as his Parent Carers and need to find a way to recapture a lost dream of that inclusive society, without the need to ‘just do it ourselves’.
My message to those who read this and have experienced anything similar is not to give in to the same behaviours, look for those aspects that works and then refocus your energies into trying to motivate change. For example, this was an excellent event in itself, and I am in dialogue now suggesting that next time they have a couple of hours of ‘limited admittance’ or ‘wheelchair only’ periods, like some other venues, which would have avoided the conflict we experienced. If I get a positive response, or even a response, I will consider this a success.